"What motive did she have for the murders?"


Bublanski took the microphone and said, "We will not speculate as to possible motives."


"Does she have a police record?"


"Yes."


Then came a question from a reporter with a deep, distinctive voice that could be heard over the crowd.


"Is she dangerous to the public?"


Ekstrom hesitated for a moment. Then he said: "We have reports which indicate that she could be considered prone to violence in stressful situations. We are issuing this statement because we want to get in touch with her as soon as possible."


Bublanski bit his lower lip.


Criminal Inspector Sonja Modig was still in Advokat Bjurman's apartment at 9:00 that evening. She had called home to explain the situation to her husband. After eleven years of marriage he had accepted that her job was never going to be nine to five. She was sitting at Bjurman's desk and reading through the papers that she had found in the drawers when she heard a knock on the door and turned to see Officer Bubble balancing two cups of coffee on his notebook, with a blue bag of cinnamon rolls from the local kiosk in his other hand. Wearily she waved him in.


"What don't you want me to touch?" Bublanski said.


"The techs have finished in here. They're working on the kitchen and the bedroom. The body's still in there."


Bublanski pulled up a chair and sat down. Modig opened the bag and took out a roll.


"Thanks. I was having such caffeine withdrawal I thought I'd die."


They munched quietly.


Modig licked her fingers and said, "I heard things didn't go so well at Lundagatan."


"There was nobody there. There were unopened letters for Salander, but someone called Miriam Wu lives there. We haven't found her yet either."


"Who is she?"


"Don't really know. Faste is working on her background. She was added to the contract about a month ago, but she just seems to be someone who lives in the apartment. I think Salander moved without filing a change of address."


"Maybe she planned all this."


"What? A triple murder?" Bublanski shook his head dejectedly. "What a mess this is turning into. Ekstrom insisted on holding a press conference, and now we're going to get it in the neck from the media. Have you found anything?"


"Apart from Bjurman's body in the bedroom, you mean? We found the empty box for the Magnum. It's being checked for prints. Bjurman has a file with copies of his monthly reports about Salander that he sent to the Guardianship Agency. If they are to be believed, Salander is a regular little angel, big time."


"Not him too," Bublanski said.


"Not him too what?"


"Another admirer of Froken Salander."


Bublanski summed up what he had learned from Armansky and Blomkvist. Modig listened without interrupting. When he finished, she ran her fingers through her hair and rubbed her eyes.


"That sounds completely absurd," she said.


Bublanski tugged on his lower lip. Modig glanced at him and had to suppress a smile. He had a rough-chiselled face that looked almost brutal. But when he was confused or unsure of something, his expression turned sullen. It was in those moments that she thought of him as Officer Bubble. She had never used the nickname to his face and did not know who had coined it. But it suited him perfectly.


"How sure are we?"


"The prosecutor seems sure. An APB went out nationally for Salander this evening," Bublanski said. "She spent the past year abroad, and it's possible she could try to leave again."


"But how sure are we?"


He shrugged. "We've taken people in for a lot less."


"Her prints were on the murder weapon in Enskede. Her guardian was murdered. Without trying to get ahead of things, I'm guessing it's the same weapon that was used here. We'll know tomorrow - the techs found a fairly intact bullet fragment in the bed frame."


"Good."


"There are some rounds for the revolver in the bottom desk drawer. Bullets with uranium cores and gold tips."


"Very useful."


"We have lots of paperwork that says Salander is unstable. Bjurman was her guardian and he owned the gun."


"Mmm... ," Bublanski said glumly.


"We have a link between Salander and the couple in Enskede-Mikael Blomkvist."


"Mmm... ," he said again.


"You don't sound convinced."


"I can't get a clear line on Salander. The paperwork says one thing, but Armansky and Blomkvist say something else. According to the paperwork she is a developmentally disabled near-psychopath. According to the two men who have worked with her, she's a skilled researcher. That's a huge discrepancy. We have no motive for Bjurman and nothing to say that she knew the couple in Enskede."


"How much of a motive does a psychotic nutcase need?"


"I haven't been in the bedroom yet. How does it look?"


"I found the body prostrate against the bed. He was kneeling on the floor as if he were saying his prayers. He's naked. Shot in the back of the neck."


"One shot, just like in Enskede?"


"As far as I could see. It seems that Salander, if she's the one who did it, forced him onto his knees by the bed before she fired. The bullet went up through the back of his head and exited through his face."


"Like an execution, then."


"Precisely."


"I was thinking...  somebody must have heard the shot."


"His bedroom overlooks the rear courtyard, and the neighbours above and below had left for the holiday. The window was closed. Besides, she used a pillow to muffle the sound."


"Smart thinking."


At that moment Gunnar Samuelsson from forensics stuck his head in the door.


"Hi, Bubble," he said, and then turned to his colleague. "Modig, we were thinking of removing the body, so we turned him over. There's something you ought to take a look at."


They all went into the bedroom. Bjurman's body had been placed on its back on a wheeled stretcher, the first stop on the way to the pathologist. There was no doubt about the cause of death. His forehead bore a wound four inches across, and a large part of his skull was hanging by a flap of skin. The blood splattered across the bed and the wall told the tale.


Bublanski pouted.


"What are we supposed to be looking at?" Modig asked.


Samuelsson lifted the plastic sheet which covered Bjurman's lower body. Bublanski put on his glasses when he and Modig stepped closer to read the text tattooed on Bjurman's abdomen. The letters were irregular and clumsy - obviously whoever wrote them was a novice tattoo artist - but the message could not have been clearer: I AM A SADISTIC PIG, A PERVERT, AND A RAPIST.


Modig and Bublanski looked at each other in astonishment.


"Are we possibly looking at a motive?" Modig said at last.


Blomkvist bought a pasta meal from the 7-Eleven on his way home and put the paper carton in the microwave as he undressed and stood under the shower for three minutes. He got a fork and ate standing up, right out of the carton. He was hungry, but he had no appetite for food; he just wanted to take it on board as fast as he could. When it was finished he opened a Vestfyn Pilsner beer and drank it straight from the bottle.


Without turning on a lamp he stood by the window overlooking Gamla Stan for more than twenty minutes, while he tried to stop thinking.


Twenty-four hours ago he had been at his sister's house when Svensson had called him on his mobile. He and Johansson had still been alive.


Blomkvist had not slept for thirty-six hours, and the days when he could skip a night's sleep with impunity were long gone. And he knew that he would not be able to sleep without thinking about what he had seen. The images from Enskede felt ingrained in his memory for all time.


Finally he turned off his mobile and crept under the covers. At 11:00 he was still awake. He got up and brewed some coffee. He put on the CD player and listened to Debbie Harry singing "Maria." He wrapped himself in a blanket and sat on the living-room sofa and drank coffee while he worried about Salander.


What did he actually know about her? Hardly anything.


She had a photographic memory and she was a hell of a hacker. He knew that she was a peculiar, introverted woman who didn't like to talk about herself, and that she had absolutely no trust in authority of any kind.


She could be viciously violent. He owed his life to that.


But he had had no idea that she had been declared incompetent or was under guardianship, or that she had spent any part of her teenage years in a psychiatric clinic.


He had to choose whose side he was on.


Sometime after midnight he decided that he couldn't accept the police's assumption that she had murdered Svensson and Johansson. At the very least, he owed her a chance to explain herself before he passed judgment.


He had no idea when he nodded off, but at 4:30 a.m. he woke up on the sofa. He staggered into the bedroom and fell instantly back to sleep.


CHAPTER 16


Good Friday, March 25 - Easter Saturday, March 26


Eriksson leaned back into Blomkvist's sofa. Without thinking, she put her feet up on the coffee table - exactly as she would have done at home - and quickly took them off again. Blomkvist gave her a smile.


"That's OK," he said. "Make yourself at home."


She grinned and put her feet up again.


On Good Friday Blomkvist had brought the copies of Svensson's papers from the Millennium offices to his apartment. He had laid out the material on the floor of the living room, and he and Eriksson had spent eight hours going through emails, notes, jottings in Svensson's notebook, and above all the manuscript of the book.


On Saturday morning Annika Giannini had come to see her brother. She brought the evening newspapers from the day before with their glaring headlines and a huge reproduction of Salander's passport photograph on the front page. One read:


WANTED FOR


TRIPLE MURDER


The other had opted for the more sensational headline:


PSYCHOTIC MASS MURDERER


They talked for an hour, during which Blomkvist explained his relationship with Salander and why he couldn't believe that she was guilty. Finally he asked his sister whether she would consider representing Salander if or when she was caught.


"I've represented women in various cases of violence and abuse, but I'm not really a criminal defence lawyer," she said.


"You're the shrewdest lawyer I know, and Lisbeth is going to need somebody she can trust. I think in the end she would accept you."


Annika thought for a while before reluctantly agreeing to at least have a discussion with Salander if they ever got to that stage.


At 1:00 on Saturday afternoon, Inspector Modig called and asked if she could come over to pick up Salander's shoulder bag. The police had evidently opened and read the letter he sent to Salander's address on Lundagatan.


Modig arrived only twenty minutes later, and Blomkvist asked her to have a seat with Eriksson at the table in the living room. He went into the kitchen and took the bag down from the shelf next to the microwave. He hesitated a moment, then opened the bag and took out the hammer and the Mace canister. Withholding evidence. Mace was an illegal weapon and possession was a punishable offence. The hammer would only serve to support those who believed in Salander's violent tendencies. That wasn't necessary, Blomkvist thought.


He offered Modig some coffee.


"May I ask you some questions?" the inspector said.


"Please."


"In your letter to Salander which my colleagues found at Lundagatan, you wrote that you are in her debt. What exactly did you mean by that?"


"Lisbeth Salander did me an enormous favour."


"What manner of favour was that?"


"It was a favour strictly between her and me, which I don't intend to discuss."


Modig looked at him intently. "This is a murder investigation we're carrying out here."


"And I hope that you will catch the bastard who killed Dag and Mia as soon as possible."


"You don't think Salander is that killer?"


"No, I do not."


"In that case, who do you think did shoot your friends?"


"I don't know. But Dag was intending to expose a large number of people who had a great deal to lose. One of them could be the killer."


"And why would such a person also shoot the lawyer, Nils Bjurman?"


"I don't know. At least not yet."


His gaze was steady with his own conviction. Modig suddenly smiled. She knew that he was nicknamed Kalle Blomkvist after the detective in Astrid Lindgren's books. Now she understood why.


"But you intend to find out?"


"If I can. You can tell that to Inspector Bublanski."


"I'll do that. And if Salander gets in touch, I hope you'll let us know."


"I don't expect her to contact me and confess that she's guilty of the murders, but if she does I'll do everything I can to persuade her to give herself up. In that case I would support her in any way I can - she's going to need a friend."


"And if she says she's not guilty?"


"Then I just hope she can shed some light on what happened."


"Herr Blomkvist, just between us and off the record, I hope you realize that Lisbeth Salander has to be apprehended. Don't do anything stupid if she gets in touch with you. If you're wrong and she is responsible for these killings, it could be extremely dangerous for you."


Blomkvist nodded.


"I hope we won't have to put you under surveillance. You know, of course, that it is illegal to give help to a fugitive. Aiding and abetting anyone wanted for murder is a serious offence."

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